In Review: Quibi

By Lea Killian

On April 6, a brand new, mobile phone based streaming service launched in the United States. Quibi, an app users can download on their phones, offers a wide selection of shows of every genre that are filmed specifically for phone viewing.

Instead of a video one would normally have to horizontally adjust their phone to best view, the shows appear vertically, creating an interesting experience from both a viewing and production standpoint.

Each episode is only up to ten minutes long and stars some of the industry’s most recognizable faces, including Idris Elba, Anna Kendrick and Laurence Fishburne.

While this new service seems like the next most convenient way to consume entertainment media, there are potential issues to its introduction on the playing field of technology that should not go unnoticed.

The hidden corners of the world have no doubt become more accessible in the last decade due to the far-reaching, curious hands of the Internet. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ have created spaces for creators to share their work at unprecedented levels.

Additionally, viewers have thousands of options for entertainment, and that’s not even including what options have been made available by social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and primarily, YouTube.

It’s no secret the kind of impact social media has made on society, specifically to our collective attention span. The need for instant gratification has been proven a silent killer, and with the advancement of Quibi, the knife plunges deeper.

Quibi is everything users think they want. It’s simple to navigate, sleek in its black application design, and built to scroll. It keeps track of the shows viewers have started in it’s “For You” section and even has attractive summaries of each show beneath their graphics – just like Netflix.

The shows seem fascinating enough, as well. “Survive,” starring Sophie Turner, tells the story of a young girl who believes she wants to commit suicide before a plane crash changes her perspective. “The Most Dangerous Game,” starring Liam Hemsworth, follows a man in debt as he learns just how easily the hunter can become the hunted.

There are also reality shows. “Cup of Joe” follows Joe Jonas as he travels to some of the world’s most famous cities in search of local, authentic experiences. “Thanks a Million,” produced by Jennifer Lopez, allows celebrities like Kristen Bell, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Hart to give $100,000 to “an unsuspecting individual who has had a positive impact on their lives—with a catch.” (Spoiler alert: They have to give half of it away to someone else in need.)

There are also news shows and game shows, all only ten minutes per episode.

This quick viewing experience seems like a good idea in the pre-quarantine busyness of life, but one can’t help but wonder: Is Quibi attempting to fill a space that’s not empty?

While the vertical production of potentially hit shows hasn’t been done before, it doesn’t seem like enough to attract or keep the attention that places like YouTube have already gained.

Even more of a concern is how the success of an application like Quibi could further damage our ability to take in information that requires more of our attention than we’ve grown used to giving.

Think about it:

Most news articles shared on social media have a timestamp of sorts just beneath headlines to inform readers of how long it should take them to read the article.

Print journalists are instructed to separate their larger paragraphs so it will appear as if there are fewer words to read on the news page.

Even paying attention to the way we scroll through social media should give us an idea of how demanding we have become when it comes to absorbing information.

Every 2-3 seconds, we are bombarded by media, whether it be a new meme, a funny TikTok, a news article or an advertisement no one asked for.

Society craves new things quickly, and Quibi is delivering. So, maybe it’s not a matter of this new app filling a space that’s not empty. It’s a matter of it filling a space that needs to stay empty.

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed how problematically busy we are. When faced with the absence of work, school or social gatherings, many of us began to realize how few hobbies we actually have. Finding new things to do every day became a challenge because, for once, Netflix was not enough. Hulu was not enough. YouTube was not enough.

Quibi will not be enough.

There’s nothing wrong with finding community, comfort and even passion in the shows and movies these types of platforms have provided, but in such a time as this, there are things far more deserving of your attention than Quibi.

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